Old Ottawa South Community Association

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Childcare (20)

Looking for a caregiver for your child can be a real challenge. Here are some strategies and resources for parents seeking local childcare.

Neighbours who have small children are an excellent place to start.

Visit the Old Firehall's three-times weekly playgroup (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays—except in summer). This will provide an opportunity to meet other parents, as well as caregivers, and to share information. While there, don't forget to take a look at the bulletin board for information posted by area caregivers.

Get information from neighbourhood schools. School bulletin boards have postings for neighbourhood childcare, as well as for school-based programs that may be of interest. If you get the chance, speak to one of the primary grade teachers, who are usually familiar with the childcare providers in the area.

President's Report May 2013

Action on Bronson Avenue Hazards

Transportation Committee of Council approved a staff proposal designed to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety on Bronson Avenue recently.  You may recall that the community, Carleton University and the Glebe participated in a study of the operational and safety issues on Bronson that the Transportation Committee launched after the death of a cyclist riding on the street last year.  The Councillor fought hard to make sure there were some lasting improvements, especially to change the physical configuration of the crossings/intersections at the on and off ramps between Bronson and the Colonel By Drive near the Canal Bridge.  There will be some minor improvements at other intersections such as Sunnyside involving more prominent paint markings and better signage.  However, despite these improvements, the underlying problem with Bronson is that it is overbuilt for the traffic volumes it carries outside of rush hour (i.e. about 80% of the time) and so encourages dangerous speeding.  This problem has not been addressed.  Curing it will require physical changes to the road design and the main pedestrian intersections at Sunnyside and Brewer Way.  Sadly, there is no money for that either now, or in the foreseeable future, so we are going to be forced to live with what is still an unsafe thoroughfare for a long time to come.

Update on the Year

As you will know, our Annual General Meeting will be on May 7 at 7:30pm at the Firehall.  It is customary for OSCA executive members and committee chairs to present reports to the members present on what has gone on over the year and for the President to present an overview.  As a bit of a preview of what I will outline at the AGM, here is a brief summary of my take on the key achievements this year and the challenges ahead:

  • OSCA is in good shape financially; revenues are rising faster than expenditures and we are on track this year to generating a healthy surplus which will be re-invested in community programming and infrastructure; in addition our programme registrations are growing and remain healthy;
  • We have made an important transition in terms of our staff support, moving from a part-time to a full-time executive director, appointing a new OSCAR editor and making improvements in our governance and operating procedures;
  • We have a dynamic and successful newspaper and website that are reporting back to the community on important events, acting as major forums for community members to communicate with one another and providing important information on,  and access to, our programming;
  • We have hosted a wide range of community special events over the past year with excellent turnout and participation from community members; and finally,
  • We have been engaged in a number of initiatives to advance the views of our community on important development issues from zoning to infill housing and traffic and pedestrian safety.

For the year ahead we face a number of important challenges:

  • We need to further improve our management of programs and negotiate a partnership agreement with the City that will outline our respective accountabilities and roles in planning, developing and implementing programming at the Firehall and beyond;
  • We need to improve our ability to engage volunteers in OSCA’s activities and build a core base of volunteers so that our important community work does not fall on the shoulders of a dedicated few;
  • We need to grow our membership base and improve the way we sign up and communicate with OSCA members so that we can demonstrate to City officials, and the wider public, that when we speak on behalf of the community, we do so from a membership base that is large and diverse; and
  • We will need to press for zoning changes in the community, to address the challenge of increased intensification of both residential and commercial properties.  Capitalizing on the benefits of intensification while reducing the downsides needs to be our objective here, challenging developers to provide the best in urban design.

Your Board has worked hard this year on your behalf, helping to make Old Ottawa South a better place to live for all of us and I would like to take this opportunity, on your behalf, to thank them all.  Next year promises to be even better, in no small part due to the investment and hard work that has taken place over the past year.

Adieu

This is my last column as your President.  After over 10 years in the job, and 14 years on the Board, it’s time to pass the baton to another and ensure some fresh perspective and energy in the Association.  While at times it has been hard work, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as President and will continue to help out if I am re-elected to the Board.  If there was one highlight of my time as President it was seeing Council approve the renovation and expansion of the Firehall after 10 years of teamwork and fundraising on the part of the community.  It was wonderful to see all that dedicated work, by so many people, come to such a happy and worthwhile conclusion.  All the best and so long.

 

 

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President's Report April 2013

Infill on Aylmer Avenue – More Intensification Woes

At our March Board meeting we received a delegation of about 20 community members who were upset at yet another failure in our urban planning system. The saga of 167 Aylmer Avenue has received a fair bit of media coverage and is the latest example of the urgent need to get our planning framework updated in this community. The story is a familiar one: a crafty developer looks at loopholes in the planning and zoning systems to get a permit to construct a residence that is larger, and/or has more units in it than is the norm. In this case it involves converting a relatively small Old Ottawa South home into four apartment units with what is described by neighbours as four bedrooms in each apartment with a common kitchen and bathroom. What this appears to be is a rooming house, likely developed to exploit the student housing market. The house shares a driveway with the next residence and there is only parking space for two cars on the property being developed. The neighbours are likely to be dealing with a home with 16 adult residents in it.

None of the expansion appears to have required a minor variance or notification to neighbours so they were effectively presented with a fait accompli and the design of the units would seem to have got around the prohibition in the zoning in the neighbourhood that restricts the presence of rooming houses.

We have seen so many examples of this kind of thing over the last few years as property values in the neighbourhood have risen and developers manoeuvre to take advantage by putting in multiple dwellings where there was once a single house. Now some of this is to be expected given rising land values and the fact that this neighbourhood is becoming a very popular one to live in. But developments such as these need to be creatively designed and carefully integrated into the existing landscape if they are not to detract from the quality and character of the neighbourhood and don’t diminish the value and amenity of neighbouring homes. As I said in the March 20th letter I sent to the Mayor on behalf of the OSCA Board in support of the Aylmer Avenue residents:

While OSCA and many residents of Old Ottawa South support intensification and accept that there are trade-offs when living in a densely packed urban environment, they have a right to expect that the City’s planning system has the rules and the enforcement tools in place to ensure that they are not exploited and treated unfairly. There is clearly a need to close the loopholes in the local residential zoning in Old Ottawa South, and other city centre communities, and to move ahead with implementing, on an expedited basis, local design guidelines for infill and conversions. If intensification is to be an accepted reality in the inner-city and if it is to bring effective benefits to residents, we need a much more sophisticated approach to planning in the urban core and the kind of highly trained and experienced experts to lead and implement the planning process in the City that we find in other leading Canadian cities such as Vancouver.


Re-investing in the Community

As some of you may know, OSCA built up a significant financial surplus over the years which it used to help fund the Firehall renovation that was completed in 2010. We also established a charitable trust to assist in that process. Since then we have continued to accumulate funds and the Board felt it was time to think about how that money should be used in the long term. We already reserve money to be used for purchasing equipment for our community programs, but we will have sufficient funds in the coming years to consider more significant investments. As a result, the Board agreed to a set of principles for any expenditures of its reserve fund in the future. Basically those principles are as follows:

  • That the fund be used for legacy capital investments in public amenities on public property in Old Ottawa South.
  • That operational partners in the public sector be sought (e.g. the City of Ottawa) in order to lever the funds.
  • That the public amenities chosen will bring benefits to OSCA and its members by, for example, offering opportunities to expand OSCA’s programming.

The idea behind these principles is that, as our reserves are largely generated by our community programming, any expenditure of the funds should be of lasting benefit to the community and make the future delivery of community programming more effective. The Board intends to hold a community consultation over the coming year to get ideas from residents on what would, in their view, be high priority investments for the future.

Volunteer!

We are actively on the hunt for volunteers to serve on the OSCA Board and its Committees. We need your experience and skills to help build a better and more liveable community. But volunteering is also a great way to meet an interesting and committed group of neighbours and to accomplish something meaningful at the same time. The only requirement to serve is to be a resident of Old Ottawa South and to be an OSCA member, which is free – for information on how to join see our website at www.oldottawasouth.ca. If you would like to volunteer simply send an e-mail to Emilie Taman, the Chair of our nominating committee at osca [AT] oldottawasouth [DOT] ca.

OSCA’s Annual General Meeting

This is just another reminder to encourage you to attend our forthcoming AGM on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Firehall. It’s the time when you can elect our board of directors and hear about what has been going on in your community this year. This year we will also be unveiling what we heard from residents as a result of our in-depth community survey. You will get a good sense of what your neighbours see as the key issues for the community and what they would like to see changed to make OOS a better place to live. There will be a wine and cheese after the meeting to allow you to meet the new board members and socialize with your friends and neighbours.

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President's Report March 2013

Having your Say About OSCA’s Future Directions

As you will have seen in this issue of the OSCAR, and on our website, OSCA is conducting a community survey to get your views on the neighbourhood , where it is going and what you want from your community association. It’s an open form survey that takes about 20 minutes to complete. Simply go to our website (www.OldOttawaSouth.ca) and click on the survey icon on the main page.

The survey is part of our strategic planning process which will set some long term development goals for OSCA both in terms of its delivery of community services and how we should approach planning and development issues with the City. OSCA can get a lot of information on our community from data sources such as the Census; things like population growth, the age distribution and numbers of children versus adults in our community and so on, which helps to guide us in developing programming.

However, while this kind of information is invaluable, it is no substitute to getting your views on our community, what needs improvement, and what makes Old Ottawa South a great place in which to live and therefore what needs to be supported and defended. We also need to know what you think OSCA should be offering in the way of programs, services and events; are our children’s and adult programmes meeting your needs; how should we be changing, or improving , what we offer to the community?

Please do take some time and respond to the survey as your input will be invaluable to us. In order to encourage as many people to respond to the survey as possible we have extended the survey’s availability until the last day of March. We have had a good response so far, but the more responses we can get by the end of March the more accurate picture we will have of your views. The preliminary survey results will be presented at our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, May 7th.

Building a Liveable Ottawa

The City has launched a major five year review of its Official Plan (which guides the physical development of the City and its approach to issues such as zoning) and it’s the Transportation Master Plan which deals with roads and transit issues, amongst others. Information of these initiatives is available on the City’s web site (www.ottawa.ca ); click on the icon on upper right of the main page entitled “Building a Liveable Ottawa” (it is one of four revolving images). There is also a survey that you can complete that is available until early March.

There is much that is interesting about the proposals that are up for consultation; in particular in the transportation proposals there are some radical (for the City) items – such as giving priority in investment to transit, investing more in cycling infrastructure and improving the design of streets to encouraging more walking. One idea that is being canvassed is to set the criteria for road investment that assumes that there will be some level of congestion on road corridors during peak commuting hours in order to encourage more time shifting in commuting and greater transit use. This is being discussed as it is becoming increasingly evident that we cannot afford to be building roads to cope with peak traffic volumes that only exist for a couple of hours a day during a very short commuting window.

One less attractive idea that is on the table is to look at increasing densification by encouraging more very tall buildings (over twenty stories) in the downtown area and along transit corridors. While liveable cities do depend on dense development because it makes municipal services such as rapid transit and diverse retail and entertainment facilities viable, focussing on high buildings as a major mechanism to promote denser development seems a bad idea. Most of the great cities in the world (New York being the exception) are characterized by densely developed, mixed use, neighbourhoods or districts where building heights are half or less of what the city is proposing.

Programme Subsidies

For many years, the Board has provided subsidies to help to pay for the cost of enrolling in our programmes to those who requested it, and could demonstrate a need. In past years requests for subsidies have been very modest. Last year, however, we saw an increase in the requests for assistance and a greater variety in the problems people are facing financially. At our last meeting in February we agreed we would modify our approach in a number of ways. First, we would provide a budget for subsidies to help manage the expenditures and track them. Second, we will no longer restrict subsidies to residents of the community, but rather provide them to anyone who qualifies to register for an OSCA program. Finally, the Programme Committee has been granted latitude to determine the amount of subsidy it will provide to an individual or family on a program by program basis; previously the subsidy was limited to a third of the program cost. We will monitor our expenditure on subsidies closely over the coming year to determine more accurately whether there is a change in our expenditure on subsidies under this new approach and if so in what way the policy needs to be adjusted.

Nominations for the New OSCA Board

Consistent with our policy on Board renewal, we appointed a nominating committee at the February Board meeting to look for candidates to serve on next year’s Board. The new Board will be elected at our AGM in early May. The committee will be chaired by Emilie Taman, with Board members Linda Hancock, Mike Lascelles, Michaela Tokarski and Don Westwood serving as members. The committee’s first order of business is to determine which Board members will be retiring this year and therefore how many vacancies need to be filled. Once that is confirmed they will go out looking for recruits. If you are interested in serving on next year’s Board please contact Emilie at osca [AT] oldottawasouth [DOT] ca with your contact information, and some basic information on your interests and experience; Emilie, or a committee member will be in touch.

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President's Report February 2013

Volunteering

I have written in past columns about the importance of volunteering in your community.  This time I would like to suggest you think seriously about volunteering to help out on an OSCA committee, or indeed the Board itself.  We have a number of active committees that need members and participation.  Here is a brief selection:

Program Committee which is in charge of what we offer in the way of children’s and adult programs be they for yoga, pottery, hobbies or sports, our camps and after four programs;

OSWATCH, which looks after the community’s interests on planning, development and traffic;

Special Events:  which helps plan and organize our community events such as the  Winter Carnival and Fall Fest, the social events and dances we hold at the Firehall and all manner of things that bring neighbours together for some fun;

ECOS: our environment committee which promotes sustainability and environmental projects in Old Ottawa South; and last but by no means least;

OSCA Board:  which is responsible overall for running the association and making sure our activities and programs are well managed and meet community needs.

If you are interested in any of the above please contact our Executive Director, Christy Savage at osca [AT] oldottawasouth [DOT] ca.

 

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President's Report January 2013

Charting our Future Development

In the early summer last year, the OSCA Board agreed that it was time to re-think our long term goals.  Having just come off a successful campaign to renew our community infrastructure with an expanded and renovated community centre, with our program offerings expanding and the numbers of people participating growing and with our urban environment undergoing more intensification, the Board felt it was time to re-examine our priorities.  Led by Vice-President Linda Hancock, OSCA’s Strategic Planning Committee will develop a set of long term goals for the association.  Early this year the Committee will be circulating a questionnaire to residents asking your views of where the community is going and how OSCA can help it evolve in positive ways.  The results of the survey will be presented at a community meeting in the spring and then a further refinement of them will be discussed at our Annual General Meeting in early May.  In June the Board will hold a strategic planning retreat and over the summer a final report and recommendations will be drafted and presented to the Board in September. 

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President's Report December 2012

Traffic in the Community

At our November Board meeting Councillor David Chernushenko reported on his efforts to convince his colleagues to look seriously at the current problems we have with Bronson Avenue. The Board wrote to Council’s Transportation Committee supporting a motion by David to reduce speed limits on the road and to set up a working group to look at what steps could be taken to change the design of the road to reduce the speeding outside of rush hour. We have been faced with a string of serious accidents and fatalities on Bronson, involving pedestrians and cyclists, ever since the road was widened to six lanes several years ago.

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President's Report November 2012

Board Moves to Overhaul Meeting Management

As many of you who are familiar with OSCA Board meetings may know, they can be long and involved affairs often running from 7:30 to 10:30 or 11:00 p. m. We have decided to overhaul how we manage meetings to get the time required to a more reasonable couple of hours and at the same time improve reporting to members. At its October meeting the Board approved a new meeting policy which will require the submission of written committee reports and other information items several days before the Board meeting and written briefings for decision items, along with the wording of the proposed motion and the provision of any supporting financial and background information in advance as well. It is hoped that such preparation will reduce the amount of time required for information items, limiting any discussion to questions on reports and allow discussions on decision items to be focused and well prepared, and therefore, shorter.

We trialed the new approach at the October meeting and it made a significant improvement in focusing discussion and reduced the length of the meeting to less than two hours. We will still be posting our agendas in advance and posting our minutes on the website as usual; the only difference is that minutes will now have information reports and decision documents appended to them, so the minutes will actually be of greater use to those reading them as they will provide more background information than in the past.

Lansdowne Site Remediation

Community Associations abutting Lansdowne have been involved in the review of the contaminated soil remediation proposals at the site and were asked to comment on the assessment and monitoring processes proposed in an Ontario Ministry of the Environment report. As you may know, in order to reduce costs the City has decided not to dispose of excavated contaminated soil to a disposal location off site, but rather to relocate the contaminated soil from excavations to the proposed urban park area. The contaminated soil would form a berm or mound which will then be covered with uncontaminated soil. Our Environmental Committee (ECOS) provided comments on the proposed monitoring and remediation process by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment suggesting a number of improvements, in particular, relating to the manner in which the contaminated soil is sealed off on the site. As well as OSCA, the Glebe Community Association also provided detailed comments and analysis on the City’s proposed remediation plans.

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President's Report September 2012

Hopewell Avenue Fire

As you will all know from the reports on our website, the fire on Hopewell Avenue on the south side of the street between Leonard and Seneca has left two homes seriously damaged and uninhabitable and the residents scrambling for a place to live.   Many of the residents of the two houses had little or no insurance coverage for their belongings and most lost virtually all their furnishings, clothes and personal articles as there was little time to evacuate the houses.  The response of the community has been heartwarming with offers of temporary accommodation, and furniture and financial help. 

Neighbours on the street quickly organized a fund raising drive and Stella Luna Gelato on Bank Street offered to act as a temporary custodian for funds.  In a few short days $508 had been deposited by people coming into the store.  OSCA also pitched in offering to act as banker for the fund raising and setting up an on line mechanism to donate money using our program registration system on the OSCA website.  As of August 3 some $2210 has been donated in this way.  The OSCA girl’s summer camp ran a barbeque and silent auction with OSCA supplying the food and raised over $2440. Finally, on August 3 neighbours, led by Joe Silverman, held a street party on Hopewell, mainly to thank all those who helped out, but it too provided an opportunity to donate which people did and over $1760 was raised that evening.  As some of those affected were Carleton students, the Carleton’s Student Union (CUSA) got in the act as well and raised $400.  So far close to $7,000 has been raised in a few short weeks and by the time you read this the total could well be higher.

This is a great example of a community that sticks together and helps its neighbours when they are in need.  Thank you all for your generosity and for helping to make life for those who lost so much a little easier.

Board Active over the summer

While the Board does not meet over July and August, members of its committees have been busy.  The program committee, and the special events group, have been planning activities for this autumn and winter.  By September the finance committee under Steve Mennill will have looked at an accountant’s review of OSCA’s financial records and procedures to see what can be improved in the way of record keeping and financial management.  And our Vice–President Linda Hancock will be leading a group that this autumn that will look at our future strategic goals.  Christy Savage our new executive director has been hard at work looking at our human resources management and operational procedures and will be coming back to the Board this autumn with a series of recommendations on everything from volunteer recruitment to events management.  So despite the holidays we hope to be in a good position this autumn to look at how we can improve our operations in a number of ways.

OSCA Porch Sale – Saturday, September 8

By the time you read this you should start seeing advertising for our annual Porch Sale which always takes place on the first Saturday in September after Labour Day; which this year is September 8.   The event runs officially from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., rain or shine.  This is your time to sell all those treasurers that have been piling up in your closets, basements and attics over the years.  People sell literally anything, from clothes and books to furniture, kitchenware, and electronic games, even baked goods and hot drinks.  The turnout from the neighbouring parts of the city is usually very good so it’s a great opportunity to get some serious crowds viewing your stuff.  This year, in addition to publicizing the event, OSCA will be providing an opportunity for those without a porch to set up tables at the Firehall to sell their items and will be running a BBQ on the site.  As always, we ask those selling to make a donation of 10% their proceeds to OSCA to help defray advertising costs; any surplus is devoted to our community special events which we hold thorough the year.  Simply mail a cheque to the Firehall (260 Sunnyside Avenue, Ottawa ON K1S 0R7) payable to “OSCA”.  Thanks for your support and have a great sale!

 

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President's Report July/August 2012

New OSCAR Editor

I am pleased to be able to announce that the selection process for the new OSCAR editor position has been completed and the selection committee, chaired by Michaela Tokarski, has chosen Brendan McCoy as the new editor, succeeding Mary Anne Thompson. Brendan, a long time Old Ottawa South resident, has served on the OSCA Board and as co-chair of OSWATCH for a number of years and is very familiar with community issues and interests. The position of editor is a contractual one for effectively a two year term which is renewable with the agreement of both parties. Brendan will be starting on the paper over the summer and taking over with the September issue. A total of over 30 individuals submitted applications for the position in what emerged as a very rigorous and demanding competitive process. From the applications the selection committee interviewed seven of the most promising candidates by telephone and three finalists in person. Our thanks go out to Michaela and the members of the selection committee for the many long hours they put in to review the applications ad interview the finalists.

The Board would also like to thank Mary Anne for her many years of dedicated service as OSCAR Editor during which the paper has grown significantly in terms of both its content and its impact in the community. We are all very grateful to her for her hard work and commitment to building a vibrant and respected community paper of which we are all very proud. Brendan has a strong legacy on which to build and we wish him well in his new role.

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